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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Andrew J. Etman: City Council Candidate

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, October 20, 2005

City Council challenger Andrew J. Etman
•SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW
•SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW

North Adams – Andrew J. Etman, 41, of 83 Franklin St., said that he’s been involved with area politics and municipal government since he was a teen-aged youth, and wants to bring his experience to the city.

“Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always tried to be involved,” Etman said during an Oct. 19 interview. “I’ve always been active, whatever community I’ve lived in.”

Etman is among eight incumbent city councilors and seven challengers vying for nine city council seats during a Nov. 8 election. City Councilor William Donovan announced in September that he will be moving from the city is no longer seeking reelection to the council.

At age 18, Etman lived in Williamstown and sought election to the town’s Board of Selectmen. He lost that bid but, after moving to Stamford, Vt., Etman was elected to the town’s Cemetery Commission. He subsequently moved to Clarksburg and was elected to the Conservation Commission, the Planning Board, and the Board of Selectmen. As a selectman, Etman served as the town’s representative to the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and the Hoosac Water Quality District.

Etman is a full-time student at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and works at the MCLA facilities department. He is also employed as a part-time bartender at the city-based Sons of Italy club. Etman is married to Barbara Etman. The couple has two teen-aged children. Etman is the volunteer director of security for the Steeplecats baseball team and said that he is active with the First Baptist Church. Etman and his wife are also active participants within football and cheerleader booster clubs, he said.

The City

Serving as a city councilor would be an extension of his community and volunteer effort, Etman said, and he emphasized the many positives he sees in the city.

“It looks so nice now,” Etman said.

He recalled attending Fall Foliage Festival parades during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and said there are tremendous differences in the city’s appearance. A quarter century ago, the K-mart Plaza area was an unattractive, dirt-filled space; now it is a site of potential, he said. The city itself is now a very appealing community, he said.

“If you look now, we have new buildings, we have flowers, we have curb work; it’s just a gorgeous city,” Etman said. “The people are about the friendliest people I’ve ever met. It’s a good citizenship and it’s a hard-working citizenship. There’s a great work ethic in town and it’s a great place to raise kids.”

The Mohawk Theater is poised to be “the cornerstone” of the downtown, Etman said.

“It’s a gorgeous old theater,” he said. “I remember going there on Tuesday nights for a dollar when I was a kid. I always wanted to go to the balcony, and it was always closed.”

An extension of the Ashuwillticook trail, which currently runs from the Berkshire Mall in Lanesboro to downtown Adams, would add benefit to the city, Etman said.

“The rail trail, I think it’s great that they are trying to extend that up here,” he said, and noted that he’s walked portions of the existing path.

“It’s amazing; you are just off of Route 8 but it’s like you are in another world, you’re back into nature. I, for one, could use the exercise.”

Etman said that he is eager to see development at the K-mart site.

“It’s a big hole in the city,” he said. “Something has to be worked out with First Hartford [the Connecticut-based company that owns the property], get some stores in there, and I think their plan needs to include some downtown housing, if we can do it. The more people we have living in the downtown, the more people there are downtown and that’s going to help the shops on Main, Eagle, and Marshall streets.”

Looking Ahead

“A vibrant, active downtown alive with people” was how Etman described his vision of the downtown in the year 2015.

Etman noted the excitement and social context of the yearly Mayor’s Downtown Celebration, and said that while crowds numbering in the thousands can’t be expected in the downtown on a daily basis, the lively atmosphere could be a constant presence along the streetscape.

“I’d like to see a different array of shops on the street, places for people to go, places to draw students from MCLA to the downtown,” he said.

Opportunities for recreation should be expanded, and improvements at the Noel Field Athletic Complex and the Daniel Alcombright Field must continue, Etman said. The city could become a vacation destination as well as a community where “people would want to relocate,” he said.

“And bring in some companies so there are places for these people to work,” he added.

When asked if his hopes for a vibrant downtown include a desire to help with its creation, Etman said, “That’s exactly it.”

Good Fit

If elected, Etman said his past municipal experience would serve the city and the council well.

“It’s not really a job I’d have to learn,” he said. “Being a selectman and being a city councilor are pretty close to being one and the same. I think I would be the best fit for the current council, if they were to be reelected. I know all these people, professionally and personally. We’d be able to continue on with the work the city’s been doing.”

He will be accessible to city residents as a city councilor, he said.

“If a constituent calls me up on the phone, or e-mails me, or whatever, I’ll respond to them right away. I’m not going to be lackadaisical.”

He doesn’t have “a ton of new ideas,” Etman said but added that he has had some thoughts he’d like to present as a councilor. City voters who support him will face no subsequent disappointments if he is elected, Etman said.

“I think [voters] need to know if I earn their vote, it’s not a vote they will regret later on,” he said. “Some folks have worried and called [the city council] a ‘rubber stamp council.’ It’s not; I’ve been to city council meetings. They question things. I’ll question things.”

“If I am elected, I am going to be involved with things. I’m going to be right there and I’m not going to sit back.”

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.

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